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Friday, November 20, 2015

Reviewing the Tamron AF SP 90mm f/2.8 VC


This is the newer version of this lens, offering VR (or, as Tamron calls it, VC = Vibration Compensation). But is it otherwise similar to the old one, optically and otherwise? Or are there any tricks hidden inside its (plastic) casing? As you can see if you compare the two reviews, a lot of what I had to say about the previous version also applies here. But there are still some crucial differences.

I found myself using this lens more as a short tele and less as a macro. It doesn't mean it's not good in that, too, simply that this is a lens meant for versatility


+ optically almost flawless, no real issues (but read below).
+ stabilization works splendidly.
+ AF is finally modernized: fast and reliable

- construction quality inferior to Nikon's
- on full-frame, I find the 90mm a weird focal length for macro (more on 'Final Verdict')
- somewhat susceptible to flare without the hood.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Positioning Flashes for Macro Photography


Many beginners believe that a flash is something you use when there isn't enough light. It's a remnant of the film days, when you were mostly stuck with ISO 200 or ISO 400 (and a compact camera with a slow lens). Nothing could be further from the truth. Using flash can be a major factor in composition. Your speedlight is your portable light source, and you can use it to your advantage.

Today's article focuses on macro photography in particular. Using flash to control the light of your closeups can be crucial for a successful outcome. I will show you with examples how to position your flashes in order to achieve the desired result.

First Things First: What Are you Trying to Achieve?

I always repeat this phrase, and I hope that long-time readers have embraced it. In photography (macro or otherwise) you should always begin from defining your scope: What is it that you're trying to achieve? To demonstrate, allow me to take a step back and point out an interesting fact: When I say the words "Macro Photography" and "Flash", what is the first thing that comes to you? Is it a Ring Flash by any chance? If so, you should pause and try to imagine what kind of image you would get if you used a ring flash. Precisely. You would get an image where your subject would be bathed in light. This might or might not be what you want. If by "Macro Photography" you're referring to photos of products of food, that need to be evenly illuminated and as close to "neutral-looking" as possible, then yes, a ring flash is what you need (there are other options, too, such as a Light Cube).

But what if you're after artistic expression instead?
What if you want to learn about positioning and using flashes for macro photography that entails dramatic expression and contrasts, that can offer either tack-sharp images with plenty of detail, or, instead, diffused, soft, ethereal outputs? Congratulations, read on.

Flash macro photography
The important of flash position in macro photography is often overlooked.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Speculative: Nikon D2300 - World's Smallest DSLR Camera?

November 2015 Update:
I'm bumping this article up, due to some important developments. Nikon has filed a patent for an 18-55 kit lens designed for mirrorless APS-C cameras! (If you read Japanese, read here). This is major news, as you might realize. Of course a patent doesn't mean anything yet (companies file patents for all kinds of projects that never materialize), but if we try to read into this, it signifies that Nikon is at the very least considering an APS-C mirrorless. Read the following article again, and try to speculate what it might mean for the Nikon mount (I offer my own input at the end of this article)

(Note: Bold font in this text means it's text added in the November 2015 update)

Yep, you read that right. Nikon D2300 - it's not a typo, I didn't mean to write D3200 (which is already a small, fine, in-production camera). But if size does matter, and you are one of those people who want your cameras as small as possible (while still being a DSLR), then the Nikon D2300 might be just for you.

But let's take a breath here, shall we?

You see, the Nikon D2300 doesn't exist (at the time this article is written - April 2014). It doesn't exist yet. It is no more than a rumor that has been circulating the net for a few months. According to the - always rumored - specs, it would be a merely 290g camera, smaller even than the Canon Rebel SL1. It is also very probable that it will not have an optical viewfinder. In some ways, you could consider it a bit bulky mirrorless. Certainly bigger than the J/V Nikon mirrorless cameras. But - and this is the reason I'm talking about a non-existent (yet) camera - it will still probably have a DX sensor and mount.

Optical viewfinders offer you unmatched connection to the moment. 

All this is mere speculation, but do you happen to remember what I was saying about mirrorless some time ago?